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Plexus International 1992
Columbus Reconciliation Forum on "The Well Being in the XXI Century." Carloforte, Sardinia

In early October of 1992, in Cagliari, the toy boat  Colombina representing the historical memory of the Plexus Columbus project was recuperated from the Sardinian aristocratic family Amat di Sanfilippo. Guido Pegna carried it there in 1991, from Carloforte, after the flight on board his kite,   when it came out the request by the Columbus Consortium Italian Committee to stop the Plexus participation in the 1992 Columbus International conference.

Few days after, on October 9 – 11,  at the Cinema Mutua of Carloforte, in the island of San Pietro, the international Symposium on The Well Being in the XXI Century was opened as the first Columbus Reconciliation Forum. It was presented by the Columbus Consortium and organized by the University of Rome La Sapienza, the University of Cagliari, the University of Saint Louis in Senegal, and the International Institute of Epistemology La Magna Grecia. It was made in collaboration with the Institute of Italian Encyclopedia Treccani, the Institute for the Italian American Experience, and the Consortium for the Touristic Development of the City of Carloforte. It had the support of the County of Sardinia, the District of Cagliari and the City of Carloforte. No credits were listed for Plexus International. For three days, participants from America, Africa, and Europe (including Russia), reflected upon the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas as an issue of reconciliation for the well being of the XXI century. Georgetta Stonefish Ryan as the representative of the American Indian Community House of New York documented all activities. As opening act, the rectors of the Universities of Cagliari and of Saint Luis in Senegal signed a cooperation agreement. At the opening addresses David Ecker as the representative of the Columbus Consortium expressed his concern about the world survival of the living traditions in art.

From A Cultural Navigation by David Ecker:

The Christopher Columbus Consortium was established in New York City on March 10, 1989, by an international group of individuals interested in creating a series of projects to mark the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’s landing in the Americas.  Participants at this formative meeting included professors from several universities, and representatives from community and cultural organisations.  The idea of a kind of “cultural navigation” arose out of this initial discussion, the notion that what was required of us was to re-think the significance of Columbus’s landing in the light of a new global awareness of interdependence.  Further meetings generated a veritable “fleet” of proposals.  One of these proposals, made by Dr. Sandro Dernini of Plexus International, is now reaching fruition, a Reconciliation Forum to address the question of what will constitute well-being in the 21st Century for all the inhabitants of the globe.  I should mention that our focus on well-being was the result of two preparatory meetings in the office of Professor Carlo De Marco of the University of Rome in January and June 1990.  I should also mention that the lovely setting of San Pietro Island as the site of the first Forum was not an arbitrary choice.  The members of the Christopher Columbus Consortium felt that this particular location would have deep political significance.  For many of us, the initial idea of cultural navigation led quickly to the question of cultural identity.  And for geo-political reasons, what better place that to locate our deliberations in the center of the western Mediterranean Sea. San Pietro Island was selected not only because of the amusing story of how Columbus allegedly altered the ship’s compass to mislead his crew into continuing on his intended course to Tunisia.  More seriously, Sardinia provides a symbolic setting for fresh attempts at reconciliation between the peoples of the East and West as well as peoples of the North and South.  The question of the cultural identity of Sardinia itself poses a challenge. The nutritional, social, ethical and economic aspects of well-being will undoubtedly receive critical attention in the proceedings of the Forum. But surely the artistic and aesthetic dimensions of life as we live it must figure in any formulation of a comprehensive vision of well-being.  The arts make visible our cultural identity and provide a direct measure of the vitality of the culture in which a particular art object or event is embedded.  It follows that the arts have a special role to play in relation to the well-being of the members of each of the cultures of the world. For one organization represented here, ISALTA, it is not enough to document the arts in their cultural settings, but to take steps to enhance the arts and thus the quality of the lives people live.  The name of this intentional group states its purpose: International Society for the Advancement of Living Traditions in Art. Historically,  artistic decline accompanies the loss of cultural identity.  The felt need to preserve the meaning of a tradition in modern life is directly proportional to the loss of spiritual and material well-being of the artists and artisans sustaining their own cultures.

Dennis de Leon, commissioner of Human Rights of New York City stressed with Aldo Landi, representative in Italy of the World Health Organization, the need to develop a new ethical vision of well being as an issue of reconciliation. The working session Strategies for Health for All devoted special attention to the unequal development and the ethics of development in international cooperation. It was highlighted that according to the World Health Organization’s constitution it was stated that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It was strongly reaffirmed that health was a fundamental human right and nutrition and health had to be considered as parts of a more complex system of human ecology requiring a multidisciplinary approach involving very different activity areas. Nilde Cortez and Josè Rodriguez from CUANDO raised the issue on the need in the community of a new synthesis of the different cultural values, within a new well being paradigm. Patricia Parker Nicholson, by recalling the 1984 In Order to Survive Open Call  issued from the Lower East Side Community, raised attention on the cultural struggling in the community. Rolando Politi highlighted the creative process of working in the community. George Chaikin presented a networking cultural navigation proposal, starting from the Plexus fleet of projects. Lorenzo Pace carried ritually the Colombina little toy boat, retrieved few days before in Cagliari, and by recalling his family slavery heritage introduced the Plexus proposal of the opening of the Art World Bank in Goree. Odita Okechukwu as well as Franco Meloni presented the Plexus Goree proposal as an international cooperation project of art and science reinforcing reconciliation and well being in the world. Their Plexus presentations were addressed to the Senegal delegation and in particular to Mockar MBow, former general secretary of UNESCO and current chairperson of the Goree Almandies Memorial Foundation, in charge of the international promotion of the House of the Slaves in Goree, As closing act of the Forum, it was issued by the participants the final document The Columbus Open Call of Reconciliation for the Well Being in the XXI Century:

We, as participants of the Columbus Reconciliation Forum, are making the following Open Call from  San Pietro Island to the World: 1) The political and economic order of the past 500 years since the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, having failed to bring about the necessary Reconciliation and Well Being of the people of the world, we, as individuals, call upon other individuals and communities to challenge the existing order. 2) In order to achieve the synthesis of cultures and the true understanding of differences which are converging in a new identity for human rights in the 21st Century, all people as individuals and communities must assume responsibility for the life of their community. Those nations that impose a racial identity are the primary obstacle to  Reconciliation. 

3) Unwarranted imposition by governments and social and political organizations on individuals and communities must be avoided in order to enhance Human Rights, Dignity and Solidarity. 4) We declare that sustainable development obtained with full respect for natural resources, can guarantee an acceptable quality of life to the future generations of the world. 5) We are conscious that women of the third world, as well as other regions, are the key producers of the economy in their respective countries, but they are not involved in making decisive societal choices.  This situation has resulted in the deterioration of their economic, social and health condition.  We call for all necessary help for their Well Being.

6) We commit ourselves to the development of new channels of communication to make it possible for the people of all nations and cultures to conduct free and independent exchange as a means of “Reconciliation.“ 7) We support individual and community projects dealing with Human Rights and Reconciliation. Therefore we issue an Open Call for the development of creative approaches to the empowerment of the individual and of the community. We need alternative visions to attain the ROUTE CORRECTION necessary to bring about the true meaning of the Call for Reconciliation and Well Being in the XXIst Century.

As a Columbus reconciliation act, a religious ceremony was celebrated in the small church of the Madonna of the Slave and after in the near bigger Church of San Carlo. It was dedicated to all slaves died in the world and against to all forms of slavery.  Okechukwu Odita, by recalling the history of the House of the Slaves of Goree, made his closing statement against the world wide phenomenon of the children in slavery. In the night, Plexus International with SpazioMusica organized a music performance Change of Route. It was by played Giancarlo Schiaffini with on stage an art installation by Gabriella Locci. In the lobby it was placed an exhibition of Plexus Black Boxes made by Maria Grazia Medda. 

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